Text by Abish Shakya
Photo by Satyan Shrestha
The 7 young athletes left us proud not only by participating at the 2016 Summer Olympics but giving out remarkable performances; 2 national records were broken by swimmer Sirish Gurung in 100 meters freestyle and track runner Saraswati Bhattarai in 1500 meters. At one side, Nepal made its debut in archery, and on the other, Nepal made a return by participating in judo and taekwondo after an eightyear hiatus.
Furthermore, Gaurika Singh, the 13-year-old swimmer, became the headlining name in the international media. On a proud note, BBC listed Nepal in the third position, in its list of the most amazing national anthems at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
While we all Nepalese are having our noses swollen with pride, WAVE got together with the national stars, who performed so well at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Let’s hear more about their experiences and their thoughts for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Gaurika Singh (Swimmer)
- It was an amazing experience, and I can’t believe it was happening. I love how all the athletes mix there.
- During the warm up, I was swimming in the lane next to Mitch Larkin, the men’s backstroke world record holder, I was like: wow. I didn’t say anything to him, obviously, but wow, that is amazing.
Singh, 13, was the youngest athlete to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and won heat 1 of the Women’s 100m Backstroke in a time of 1:08:45 but did not qualify for the semifinals. She completed the event in one minute and 8.45 seconds — 1.14 seconds behind the national record of 1:7.31 that she had set during the 12th South Asian Games in India earlier this year.
If she retired in 2032 after competing in the next four Olympics, she would still be just 29.
Sirish Gurung (Swimming)
- Participating in the Olympics was my dream, ever since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and I consider myself ‘lucky’ to be selected for the 2016 Rio Olympics at just 18 years of age.
- I wasn’t expecting any medals, but as it is a timing sport, I was expecting to break my personal record, and I did. So, I’m pleased with my performance.
- I celebrated by birthday with fellow athletes and had a good time at Rio.
- Now I’ll focus on winning an international medal for Nepal and be the first ever male swimmer to do that.
- We don’t have a heating system to heat water in the pools to make swimming possible, which I hope the government will provide.
- We also lack dietitians and physiotherapists which is important so that we can perform our best, be protected from sickness and be safe from long term injuries. Gurung broke the national record in 100 meters freestyle with a timing of 57.76 seconds.
Saraswati Bhattarai (Track & field)
- I had trained hard for months and I was looking forward to breaking my personal record and possibly break the national record, both of which I was able to do.
- I was able to meet some of the best sportspersons in the world, and not just meet but compete with my idols, namely, Genzebe Dibaba from Ethiopia
- . Now, I’ll work harder to find my way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
- I hope that we can get a better diet and training because I know that we can perform better. Even though we might not win medals right away, we can at least do better in our heat and qualify for more rounds, and set a good platform for athletes to follow.
The previous national record was held by Raj Kumari Pandey, at the Beijing Asian Games, in 1990, in the 1500 meters track event, and Bhattarai secured her target by clocking 4:33.94.
Nisha Rawal (Taekwondo)
- 2016 Rio Olympics was a great experience for me. I did perform well and was happy with my performance. I performed well, way better than I had expected from myself, but I was a bit unlucky. It was wonderful to have a huge Brazilian crowd cheering up for me.
- I did better than Olympians who had participated from Nepal before.
- I know I can do a lot better, and it is possible to win a medal in the Olympics for Nepal. I hope I can qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics so I can show my true mettle, but the government should provide sportspeople some support.
She had participated in the Taekwondo above 67 kg category, and her first opponent was Zheng Shuyin who was ranked No.1 in the world from China. She did not secure the win, and fortunately, she wasn’t knocked out. Her second match was against with Frances Gwladys Épangue which she lost by just a single point.
Phupu Lamu Khatri (Judo)
- Judo has shown me a way to live. It was my father’s dream for me to take part in the Olympics who has been my biggest motivator, my god, my everything.
- I competed in the under 63 kg category and I was glad that I could get the chance to play at just 20 years of age when people who have been playing judo for 20 years have not got that chance.
- 2016 Rio Olympics was a wonderful experience and I performed better than I thought I would.
- Previously, many experienced players from our country were defeated in minutes, so, I was hoping I’d last for 5 minutes in the arena, and I did last for 4 minutes.
- I still have the best years of my life ahead of me and I hope I can qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Khatri lost to Maricet Espinosa, a top player from Cuba.
Hari Kumar Rimal ( Track & field)
- I wasn’t expecting to win any medals in the Olympics but I was rather focused on doing my best.
- Rio was fun as I got to watch the football finals in the Olympics and watch Brazil win over Germany.
- I do not think it is possible to win medals for Nepal in the Olympics anytime soon because the South Asian Games itself is very competitive so, I’d rather focus on the national games and SAG than the Olympics
Rimal participated in a long race, which is the 5000-meter track event and a 12 and a 1/2 lap run. He was performing well in the beginning but he fell behind the pecking order in the long run. He completed with a good time but didn’t really get the expected outcome.
Jitbahadur Muktan (Archery)
- The scores in archery are unpredictable, and it is all up to the timing and rhythm and takes some strong mental preparation to play this game. I was unable to outdo my best.
- As for now, I’ll be working hard and train to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
- If the government provides an archery range of 90 meters wide or more inside the valley, it will be helpful to develop myself and other archers, who are good enough to win medals in the Olympics. Muktan got in through the wild card, and was the first from Nepal to participate in archery.
- Muktan was unable to outdo his best of 642 which he had scored in Bangkok as he only got a score of 607 out of a maximum score of 720. Let us hope that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will see more Nepalese participation, and perform even better than this term. Jai Nepal.